Psalm 40:2 NIV
All of us, at some point in our lives, will be praying for breakthrough. We will need cycles to be broken, unhelpful behaviours and thoughts uprooted and changed, and help moving on from things that have been said and done to us. Sometimes that breakthrough can come through talking to others and seeking professional help. Other times, it’s only God who can bring about that breakthrough we need. In Psalm 40, David begins by telling us how God brought breakthrough in his life. He speaks of God turning to him, hearing his cry, and lifting him up out of the circumstances he was in. But right at the beginning, he says: ‘I waited patiently for the LORD’ (v.1 NIV). Sometimes our breakthrough doesn’t come when we want it to. Maybe we have been praying for breakthrough for a long time, and we are tempted to give up. These words from David remind us that sometimes we have to wait patiently for God to bring about change, it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t hear us or doesn’t care. He just has His own timing and His own ways (take a look at Isaiah 55:8-9), and we won’t always understand them. When God lifted David, He placed him on a rock, which David said gave him ‘a firm place to stand’. When God brings breakthrough in our lives, He puts us back on a firm foundation – Him. We have to stand on the truth we find in the Bible. Finally, David says: ‘Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him’ (v.3 NIV). Our breakthrough brings glory to God. It shows others what He can do, and how we can be transformed. When we share our story, it can bring hope to others who are waiting for their own breakthrough.
Ezek 27:25-30:26; Matt 23:1-12; Ps 112; Prov 20:1-4
Micah 7:8 NIV
We can all get despondent from time to time. It can happen after we’ve had a great success or victory. Or it can be caused by other people hurting or disappointing us. Or it might be because of a change in our life circumstances, perhaps losing a job or a relationship not working out. We can also feel that way when we don’t get enough rest, proper food, and exercise. We get run down and burned out. Jesus said that Satan comes to ‘steal and kill and destroy’ (John 10:10 NIV). Our peace of mind, joy, and hope for the future can all be stolen from us. But God wants us to experience those things again. And we can. The thing we need to remember is, whatever has caused our despondency, it’s normal to feel that way for a while. But the good news is that we don’t have to stay in that place. The prophet Micah said: ‘For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light’ (Micah 7:8 NLT). Micah acknowledges that times of falling will happen, but recognises that he can rise up from those times and that the light of God will once again illuminate the places where darkness has seeped in. And that’s true for us too. When we feel despondent, we can know that we will rise up again. When the darkness feels overwhelming, we can know that Jesus’ light is strong enough to overcome it. The Bible tells us that, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ (John 1:5 NIV). When we’ve fallen, God meets us where we are and helps us back up again – we don’t have to do it all in our own strength.
Num 19-21; Mark 3:20-35; Ps 37:16-24; Prov 11:4
Philippians 4:8 NLT
Our minds are powerful things. What we think about can change our attitude, behaviour, relationships, and faith. It can influence every aspect of our lives. That’s why Paul encouraged those in the church in Philippi to ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’ (vv.8-9 NLT). When we take control of our minds, and fill them with positive and helpful thoughts, we’ll be more prepared to avoid temptation and sin. Peter warns us to ‘prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control’ (1 Peter 1:13 NLT). When our minds are filled with God’s truth, we’ll be able to recognise the lies of the enemy. When our minds are filled with loving thoughts, we’ll respond to others with love and grace. When our minds are focused on the things that are right, there’ll be less space to dwell on the negative and sinful things. Peter also said: ‘Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). When we’re not in control of what’s going on in our mind, we’re more vulnerable to the enemy tempting us, and we’re less fixed on God’s truth. David prayed: ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer’ (Psalm 19:14 NLT). He was asking God to help Him ensure that his words and thoughts were good. And we can ask God to do the same for us.
Num 11-13; Mark 2:18-28; Ps 2; Prov 10:30-32
1 Thessalonians 1:8-9 NIV
When God truly turns us around, His Spirit lives in us. When that happens, we begin to see things differently. We will begin to notice things that we didn’t before. Our heart will start to be broken for the things that break His, bringing us more in line with His will. He will change the way that we feel, think, and operate, for the better. It has been thought by several Christian writers that, after Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and God giving the Holy Spirit to us for every day, we can read the Ten Commandments as promises, rather than rules. With a changed heart, when God says ‘you will have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3 NIV), He is describing what our lives look like with Him, and telling us that we won’t want our idols any more. When we become His, God expects us to live a life that reflects Him, and He equips us to do that by taking care of our hearts. He won’t let us off the hook when it comes to things that matter to Him, but not because He’s standing over our shoulder ready to punish us. We will stay in line with His will because we want to. If we ask God to change our hearts, we will become more like Him, more like we were designed to be. Our hearts will change and we will start to move away from what’s wrong to what’s right naturally. Let Him do the changing, and you will never turn back.
Isa 58-62; Luke 4:1-13; Ps 89:1-14; Prov 2:20
2 Thessalonians 3:11 NKJV
One day Peter looked at John and said to Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus immediately rebuked Peter and said, “What is that to you? Just follow me” (See John 21:21-22). Now, if the apostle Peter could get into trouble for meddling, any of us can. The issue here isn’t about helping others; it’s about knowing when to stay out of the middle and mind your own business. Sometimes we jump in and try to solve problems without being asked. And not only are our efforts fruitless, they’re resented. As you become spiritually mature and get over your need to “fix” everybody, life becomes simpler. Now that you’re not “butting in” where you’re not invited, you’re more available to help where you’re really needed. Not meddling, however, goes beyond avoiding the temptation to police, enlighten, or rescue others. It means not eavesdropping, gossiping, talking behind people’s backs, and needing to figure everybody out. Recognize any of these traits in yourself? If so, deal with the problem before it costs you the respect of others. Do you know why we focus so much on other people’s shortcomings? You’ve guessed it – to keep from having to look closely at ourselves. The only thing you can change about others – is your attitude toward them. Paul writes, “Some…among you…are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort…that they work in quietness” (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 NKJV). One counselor says: “Being a peacemaker doesn’t mean we get in the middle. We are bearers of peace by staying peaceful ourselves…not harboring turmoil…not causing the extra chaos created when we get in the middle of other people’s affairs and relationships.”
Soul food: Isa 38-41; Luke 2:34-40; Ps 74:1-11; Prov 2:6